The Big Lebowski is a shapeless, genial, hilarious movie about a guy who is himself genial and hilarious and none too shapely. His name is Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), but he prefers to be called The Dude, and he spends a good deal of time tiresomely correcting people about this particular fact. This is probably due to the fact that he shares the last name of a local philanthropist, "Big" Lebowski (David Huddleston, looking disturbingly like Dick Cheney). The two could not be more dissimilar: The Dude does things like drink milk in the supermarket before paying for it with a rumpled personal check, while Big Lebowski creates programs for underprivileged urban children.
The only way to make these two characters co-exist in the same movie, it seems, is to put them into a screwball plot that's like The Big Sleep crossed with Animal House. In fact, big chunks of the plot of Lebowski seem inspired by Sleep — a powerful man in a wheelchair; a pornography subplot; a missing young woman; et any number of ceteras. It's close enough to count as homage, but it's played as comedy; the thriller plot is mostly a clothesline for gags. Read more